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Vicarious liability for deliberate actions of independent contractor upheld on appeal - David Williams & Andrea Ward, DAC Beachcroft

18/08/18. Barclays Bank plc v Various Claimants, High Court, 2018

The question of whether an employer should be held liable for deliberate criminal assaults upon its employees by an independent contractor has been considered by the Court of Appeal in its recent judgment in Barclays Bank plc v Various Claimants.

This judgment follows Mohamud v Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc, Cox v Ministry of Justice, Various Claimants v Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc and Armes v Nottinghamshire County Council in which the 'elastic' boundaries of the doctrine of vicarious liability have been stretched.

In her judgment at first instance, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies DBE concluded, following the tests in E v English Province of our Lady of Charity, Various Claimants v Institute of Brothers of Christian Schools and Cox v Ministry of Justice, that it was fair, just and reasonable for the bank to be vicariously liable for sexual assaults by the doctor on the bank's employees and applicants for employment. The relationship between the bank and its doctor, Dr Bates, and the connection between the assaults and the quasi-employment of the doctor meant there was a sufficiently close relationship to support a finding of vicarious liability.

The bank appealed to the Court of Appeal on the basis that the judge...

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